CHARLOTTE, N.C., July 9, 2014 — The story that George Clooney might be forced to convert to the Druze faith in order to marry his Druze fiancée at first seemed to have a humorous focus.
It was big news several months ago when one of Hollywood’s most eligible bachelors announced that he had found his “perfect 10” and would enter the world of matrimony.
So it was not surprising when United Kingdom publication “The Daily Mail” printed a story — since taken down — that Clooney had overlooked the fact his future 37-year old wife comes from an Orthodox Lebanese Druze family which forbids marriage with outsiders. The Druze sect is an ancient offshoot of Islam.
Ironically, Amal Alamuddin, Clooney’s fiancée, is a noted British human-rights attorney.
According to the now discredited story published in The Mail, Amal’s mother, Baria, “is unhappy with the pending marriage and is not impressed with Clooney’s credentials and high profile image throughout the world.”
That’s where the lighter side of the story ends however, and the serious overtones take over. The family may not have a problem, but other faithful might.
Clooney has vehemently responded to the article in a statement to “USA Today” saying, “I want to speak to the irresponsibility of Monday’s Daily Mail report. I seldom respond to tabloids, unless it involves someone else and their safety or well being. The Daily Mail has printed a completely fabricated story about my fiancée’s mother opposing our marriage for religious reasons.
“None of the story is factually true. Amal’s mother is not Druze. She has not been to Beirut since Amal and I have been dating, and she is in no way against the marriage.”
The Mail cited unnamed family members as its source and said that Amal’s mother has been telling “half of Beirut” that she is against the wedding.
Clooney is correct in his apprehension about potential danger for himself, Amal and/or Amal’s family. He wrote of the Daily Mail article, “It says Amal’s mother has been telling ‘half of Beirut’ that she’s against the wedding. It says they joke about traditions in the Druze religion that end up with the death of the bride. Let me repeat that: the death of the bride.”
Though Druze is an ancient sect where intermarriage usually results in excommunication and social boycott, the current turmoil in the Middle East sets the stage for a dangerous environment for someone as prominent as Clooney.
Consider that Meriam Ibrahim, a Sudanese woman married to an American, remains in custody in Sudan despite having her death sentence for apostasy recently overturned. Ibrahim has been attempting to leave the African nation for more than a month since her sentence was reversed.
At the same time, Ibrahim was sentenced to 100 lashes for having sexual relations with a non-Muslim man despite the fact that he is her husband.
Clooney’s situation with Amal Alamuddin is virtually the same, and, given Clooney’s notoriety, it is not beyond the realm of comprehension that extremists could use that fame to gain worldwide attention through some act of violence.
In the past, Clooney has stated, “I don’t believe in heaven and hell. I don’t know if I believe in God. All I know is that as an individual, I won’t allow this life — the only thing I know to exist — to be wasted.”
One of Clooney’s primary concerns is that so many other media outlets picked up on the story after it broke, which, in a sense, incrementally increases the danger for the star and his future family.
This is not the first time The Mail has fabricated stories according to Clooney, but “when they put my family and my friends in harm’s way, they cross far beyond just a laughable tabloid and into the arena of inciting violence. They must be so very proud.”
For the moment, the ramifications regarding the possibilities of a serious incident are speculative, but for Clooney the potential for threats are real. Jihadists incidents have occurred throughout the world for far less notoriety than doing harm to a famous Western celebrity.
Perhaps the media would be wise to focus more on the reality Islamic jihad and the consequences of that reality rather than potentially dangerous methods to sell papers in a world gone mad.
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe. Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
Read more of What in the World and Bob Taylor at Communities Digital News. Follow Bob on Twitter @MrPeabod